A group backed by biotech companies raised more than $7.9 million to fight a Maui ballot initiative calling for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms.
Campaign Spending Commission records for the group called the Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban showed that Monsanto Co. spent $5.1 million and Dow AgroSciences spent nearly $1.8 million, the Maui News reported Wednesday. Other contributions include $1 million from the Council for Biotechnology Information and nearly $20,000 from the Support Agriculture Coalition Committee.
The group's reports for the period of Aug. 10 to Oct. 20 show expenditures included $4.2 million in advertising, nearly $500,000 in direct mailing and $1.2 million on a Los Angeles company that specializes in ballot measure campaigns.
The Maui Citizen's Initiative for a Temporary Moratorium on Crop Cultivation raised a little more than $60,000. Other groups formed in favor of the proposed GMO moratorium raised much less.
Biotechnology companies have "corrupted our entire democratic process" by spending nearly $200 per Maui voter on their campaign fighting the initiative, said SHAKA Movement, which led the effort to put the question on the Nov. 4 ballot.
The anti-initiative group said it is trying to keep Maui County residents from losing their jobs.
"The campaign used the financial resources of the seed companies to correct the mass amount of misinformation that has been spread in the community by the initiative's backers and to discuss with the voters on Maui, Molokai and Lanai how this initiative will devastate our islands and our local economy," the group said in a statement.